This week’s adventure began with the Vengance Rising spat from the warp in a dangerous emergency warp translation. A massive storm had bubbled into existance, threatening to tear the ship apart, and so riding the turbulent interface between the chaotic warp and normal space, Marloc Reknor guided the ancient ship back to the relative safety of the Koronos Expanse.
S’Ang Shi calls down from her protective bubble in the Navigator’s Spire to inform the command crew that the nav algorithms in the journal appear to be corrupted.
“They sent us directly into that storm,” she said, “I wonder if we can trust these…”
Preliminary scans of nearby space show them to be on the outskirts of a dead system – a pale white dwarf star barely illuminating the frozen world and it’s two moons that hang nearby.
Before the ship has the chance to put the deep augur array online a paniced warning is shouted across the bridge:
Out from behind the furthest moon two frigates have revealed themselves, and now approach the Vengance at full power. Ahead of them two torpedos speed across the void. Marloc swings the ship hard to starboard and pushed the plasma drives to maximum, just clearing the path of the deadly missiles. One of the frigates opens up with a barrage of laser fire, managing to do little more than scorch the armour.
Winter reports from the augur station that the two vessels are cobra and sword class frigates as Kerghan directs the Vengances formidable weaponry in retaliation. A barrage from the macrocannons stripped the Cobra’s shields and the terrifying power of the lance was enough to punch clear through the hull, nearly cutting it in half. Seeing that they were clearly outclassed the pirate vessels turned and fled.
During the fight a third ship had been spotted near the other moon but it had made no hostile moves and so the Vengance set course to investigate this ship. Standing 10k KM off the unknown ships’s starboard side the sensors were turned to investgate.
The Pride of Angevin was etched on the hull
The augurs couldn’t penetrate as the mysterious ship’s jamming beacon was fully active. It showed signs of torpedo strikes in the fore gun decks and the plasma drives appeared to have been disabled. Across the upper decks the warp-travel shutters were still in place, but the ship’s lighter bay was visbily open.
The ship’s name was registered to House Crowmane, supposedly as a transport vessel. Marloc commented on the potential profit in this situation and with a squad of armsmen they set off in one of the guncutters to investigate the Pride.
In the lighter bay
Low on the starboard side the only welcome our heroes recieved was from the frozen corpses. Lights and gravity appeared to have been deactivated, leaving an eerie scene of floating devastation in the cold silence of the launch bay. Orange-suited deckhands, civilian crew in varying degrees of finery and red-robed adepts drifted by. Two transports and a fury starfighter stood at rest on the decks, held in place by the launch clamps. Above their heads they could see the windows of the control bay, two of the six windows appearing to have been smashed by gunfire.
Kerghan jumped up to the control bay to see what he could find while Marloc examined the vessels. The crew and passengers of both ships had cleared been killed by edged weaponry, with blood splattered over floors and bulkheads – clearly killed before power to the bay was cut.
Standing amidst the icy darkness, Winter reached out with her mind to see what if any living souls could be found aboard. Pushing her psychic power to its limit she could feel three distinct groups – one aft, near the reactor compartments, one fore in the guts of the melodium and one to port. Latching onto a mind she started to dig…
Robert Whickam was his name, one of the petty officers – a gun-captain for Macrocannon 45. As she delved deeper into his mind the things she found filled her with dread. Although the officer seemed to be home in the Clan-Kin quarters, he and his extended family were working on transforming servitors of some sort to aid them in capturing members of the pressed crew in order to conduct some sort of unholy ritual. Breaking off contact, Winter rested heavily on her staff as draining effort of the mind scan washed over her.
Up in the control bay
Kerghan found another scene of violence. The deck officer appeared to have murdered all the technicians with his bolt pistol, if the cratered wounds born by their bodies were an indicator, and then sucumbed to the cold embrace of the void. In his left hand an authorisation card was frozen to his skin. Looking across the panels for the receptical the arch-militant saw an animated leathery face set into the control deck, surrounded by extinct candles and an insence burner. The face appeared to be talking constantly, although what it might be saying was impossible to discern with no atmosphere. Kerghan found the master power activation slot and put the card in.
Lights across the bay stuttered into life
The great power field that sealed entrance sparkled. Clouds of foggy air started to roll in across the bay, although thankfully not enough to make the sound of frozen corpses smashing on the decks audible. One of the red robed figures didn’t shatter however, but instead it… unfolded. The hunched figure sprang off the deck where it landed and straight into the middle of the squad of armsmen standing by the guncutter. Blood-chocked screams filled the com as the creature tore through the suprised men, slaughtering three of them in seconds.
Marloc span round, drawing his bolt pistol and started to blaze away. Winter tried to lash out at it with her power but found no mind to latch onto. Behind her Kerghan leapt down from the control booth and unslung his autorifle. The servitor continued to attack the armsmen, slaughtering a further two as Marlocs bolts struck home, blasting fragments of machinery from its midriff.
Desperate fire from Winter’s laspitol and Kerghan’s rifle did little to pierce the servitor’s armour or slow it’s advance. Theo Granfield, Master of Arms who led the squad, tried to back away, firing his las rifle on full auto but it had little effect and with a terrifyingly rapid leap and flurry of blows it shredded his void suit and drew a gout of blood.
Blasting away with his pistol, Marloc finally managed to strike a vital system, his bolts shattering the servitor’s spine. With a burst of sparks and shreiking metal the ferocius machine toppled backwards off Granfield and collapsed onto the deck.
Cautiously examining the remains of the machine, a horrible realisation dawns on Granfield.
“This is a murder-servitor. I’ve heard of these things but never seen one in action… well, until now anyway. Whereas I might lead a team of twenty or thirty men to assault a ship in a hit-and-run attack, just half a dozen of these things would be enough to wreak havoc aboard an enemy vessel.”
“The ships that do carry these… things… usually have around a hundred of them in cold storage”
Voices in the walls
As the atmosphere returns to the launch bay, sound comes with it.
“I have heard the voice of hope and now I know why the stars have shattered. I have heard the voice of hope and now I know why the stars have shattered. I have heard the voice of hope and now I know why the star have shattered…”
Repeated over and over again, the leathery servitor face in the command bay chants an apparently nonsensical littany. It continues on for a few minutes and then seems to be interrupted.
Over this comes the harsh bark of the intercom system:
“All crew are to report to quarters for burning! All surviving crew are to be burned in the Emperor’s name! And whichever one of you is hiding the witch, you will be flogged and then burned. BURNED!!!!”
“I dunno about the sound of that,” said a voice from behind the atmospheric vents in the far wall. “Don’t sound no fun at all.”